Once you and your family have decided to begin searching for an assisted living community, the next step is to begin to research what is available in your area. You want to make sure you learn as much as you can in order to make an informed decision. Finding a community that will meet the needs of you or your loved one now AND in the future is vital. It is also important to find a community that feels comfortable and fits your desired lifestyle.
If you have never been through this process before, it can be very intimidating and a bit overwhelming. Knowing which questions to ask when doing initial phone calls, what to look for when you are touring communities, and how to compare one community to next will help you feel confident and informed with your choice.
To make things simpler, we have provided you with a checklist:
1. Figure out what your non-negotiables are: As you begin touring communities, it’s easy to become preoccupied with the interior design and various amenities that you will see. Many senior living communities are wonderfully decorated. This is why it is important to think about non-negotiables before making phone calls. What is the community's pet policy? Do they have a wellness program or swimming pool? Is distance and a close proximity to family important? What is your maximum budget? Give a lot of thought and consideration to what things are a must have and write them down.
2. Seek feedback and reviews: Ask for feedback from people who you have trusted relationships with. Talk with colleagues and even your religious leader. People who have been through the process before and know about the local communities can provide suggestions from a relative’s perspective.
3. Consider location: Though it is not typically a deal breaker, location plays an important role in the search and decision making processes. Would you rather be close to where you grew up or be closer to family members? Consider how close you want to be to shopping centers and health care services.
4. Compare communities: Assisted living communities vary significantly in terms of services offered, amenities, and pricing. It is important to know and understand that not every community offers the exact same things and that not all communities will offer things that are important to you. Ask questions such as:
Do they have apartments or suites available in your desired time frame? If not, when do they expect an opening? Do they have a wait list? Some communities offer a waiting list that requires a small deposit.
Ask what services and amenities are included in the base monthly price. This is another area you will find a great deal of variety from one community to another. Review your original priority list. How does each community compare to the next? Would you be pushed to make some compromises if you chose a certain community?
We know this is not an easy process but if you take steps to clearly define what you are looking for at the start, it can make the process much smoother. Doing research is key and finding a community that not only fits your budget, but your needs is the most important.